Your answers to the Inquisitor
In his wine-stained satin lace,
Are irrelevant as answers
Deduced from deepest space.
Your presence in his universe
Confirms him of your crime.
He seeks to seal all passages,
All escapes from space and time.
Behind the Science of his spectacles
Lives a mind reduced by power.
A gesture from his languid wrists —
All’s over in an hour.
“We seek to keep our faithful
Baptized, confirmed, and saved
From those dark, unknown questions
That live beyond the grave.
“Hunched upon my velvet throne,
My pen controls the Door
That opens to the Vaults of Night
Above the killing floor.”
** On 3 December 1599, Fernando Niño de Guevara was appointed Grand Inquisitor of Spain. During his tenure as Grand Inquisitor, the Spanish Inquisition burned 240 heretics, plus 96 in effigy. 1,628 other individuals were found guilty and subjected to lesser penalties.
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Via Neo The Grand Inquisitor is here addressing Jesus, who has come back to earth. Although the Inquisitor is a man of the Church, he is not in favor of what he believes Jesus offers to humankind, which is free will. Instead, the Inquisitor proposes to enslave people, and he tells Jesus how he will go about doing it.
Command that these stones be made bread–and mankind will run after Thee, obedient and grateful like a herd of cattle. But even then it will be ever diffident and trembling, lest Thou should take away Thy hand, and they lose thereby their bread! Thou didst refuse to accept the offer for fear of depriving men of their free choice; for where is there freedom of choice where men are bribed with bread?
Man shall not live by bread alone– was Thine answer. Thou knewest not, it seems, that it was precisely in the name of that earthly bread that the terrestrial spirit would one day rise against, struggle with, and finally conquer Thee…
Knowest Thou not that, but a few centuries hence, and the whole of mankind will have proclaimed in its wisdom and through its mouthpiece, Science, that there is no more crime, hence no more sin on earth, but only hungry people? “Feed us first and then command us to be virtuous!” will be the words written upon the banner lifted against Thee–a banner which shall destroy Thy Church to its very foundations, and in the place of Thy Temple shall raise once more the terrible Tower of Babel…
…It is then that we will finish building their tower for them. For they alone who feed them shall finish it, and we shall feed them in Thy name, and lying to them that it is in that name.
Oh, never, never, will they learn to feed themselves without our help! No science will ever give them bread so long as they remain free, so long as they refuse to lay that freedom at our feet, and say: “Enslave, but feed us!” That day must come when men will understand that freedom and daily bread enough to satisfy all are unthinkable and can never be had together, as men will never be able to fairly divide the two among themselves.
And they will also learn that they can never be free, for they are weak, vicious, miserable nonentities born wicked and rebellious.
Thou has promised to them the bread of life, the bread of heaven; but I ask Thee again, can that bread ever equal in the sight of the weak and the vicious, the ever ungrateful human race, their daily bread on earth?
And even supposing that thousands and tens of thousands follow Thee in the name of, and for the sake of, Thy heavenly bread, what will become of the millions and hundreds of millions of human beings too weak to scorn the earthly for the sake of Thy heavenly bread?
…In our sight and for our purpose the weak and the lowly are the more dear to us. True, they are vicious and rebellious, but we will force them into obedience, and it is they who will admire us the most. They will regard us as gods, and feel grateful to those who have consented to lead the masses and bear their burden of freedom by ruling over them–so terrible will that freedom at last appear to men!